Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Is it the case now that you can pretty much replace any "f" at the beginning of a word with "ph"? I think it's probably allowed, isn't it? It gives the word extra oomph (not oomf), basically acting as additional emphasis (not emfasis). I remember back in the day "fat" had already become "phat" or sometimes descriptively "P-H fat". Same should happen with a lot of words. Graphiti. Phrog. Phunky. Phridge-phreezer.

And quite rightly so, fresh becomes PHRESH. And that is exactly how this new EP from Luviia sonds. P-h-r-e-s-h. Who is Luviia, you ask? Or perhaps you don't. But I'll tell thee. He's a Taiwanese beat-maker and hip hopper from Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. Wrote about his song 'Coppertone' the other week, after I discovered his connection to a pivotal digit of Taipei's hip hop scene, MICRO'Session. He's been on the bill there a few times now, and with good reason. His silky smooth beats would be enough to successfully atmospherise (or atmosferise) any place.

And his new EP, P2P Feelings (out on Singaporean label Darker Than Wax), is a perfect example of his way with beats. They seem to ooze naturally from him, perfectly produced, each track on the EP a little pearl of sample-affected swagger clouded with a swirling chilled vibe. Sometimes it's of the retro persuasion, shown by the groovesome slap bass funk of first track 'KeyofLivn'' and kitsch vocal samples in 'Theme for "Shaft"' - even the final track, 'Swinging Along' features a looped melody that could have been lifted from some 1980s lounge music. And that last thing kinda says it all: lounge. This music is entirely laid-back, you could certainly lounge to it, but then again you could also shuffle to it. It has a versatile mellowness throughout.

His basslines are wonderful, they're the kind that two-step through your veins like an auto-rhythmic miniaturised submarine - it's certainly the lead in 'Questions', otherwise a mesh of ambient hovering synth sounds and ethereal samples. In 'Kingdom Hall' the bass is delicious, a real double bass sound dripping with reality, as its piano melody takes you off to a magical cocktail bar on an island in the sky - the beat in this one is very nicely ornamented with extra percussion, making it a real tasty number. Sometimes this otherworldly feeling comes from the sheer mellowness of a song, like the constant waves of soft sounds in 'Lock 'Em Down', but at other times it's in the sampling, like when the flute sounds in '99 bypass' evokes some unseen, unbeen place, as do the twanging instruments in the background of 'Theme for "Shaft"'.

It feels good. This whole EP feels good. Hip hop is sometimes a difficult one to talk about because it's kind of defined by sampling and beats - a similar structure is at the core of the entire genre, basically. But this is not to say it is all the same. We, as people, are all similar structures - yet we are wildly different. Some people stand out more than others. And so it is that Luviia, a secret of Taiwan - an island, I'm discovering, which is overrun with beat-makers, MCs, and the sound of hip hop everywhere - manages to stand up and get noticed, thanks to his own skill and creative vision in a well-done and long-practiced field of music.

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